By Jessica Corbett
Five Democratic lawmakers on Friday encouraged President Joe Biden to order an immediate shutdown of the Dakota Access pipeline after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week delivered a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by ruling that DAPL is operating illegally.
The three-judge panel upheld a lower court's ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement for DAPL to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The court ordered a full environmental impact statement examining the threats posed by the oil pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as the Democrats' letter to Biden notes, "rightfully fears an oil spill could disproportionately affect their drinking water, as well as hunting and fishing rights."
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement that "we are pleased that the D.C. Circuit affirmed the necessity of a full environmental review, and we look forward to showing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why this pipeline is too dangerous to operate."
Despite mandating the review, the panel did not order DAPL to stop operating. Jan Hasselman, the EarthJustice attorney representing Standing Rock, said after the ruling that "this pipeline is now operating illegally."
"The appeals court put the ball squarely in the court of the Biden administration to take action," Hasselman said. "And I mean shutting the pipeline down until this environmental review is completed."
Five lawmakers are now backing that call: Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) as well as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Today, @SenJeffMerkley @SenWarren @RepRaulRuizMD @RepRaulGrijalva & I asked @POTUS to put people over polluters & s… https://t.co/hAHRd25RwA— Nanette D. Barragán (@Nanette D. Barragán)1612552725.0
The Democrats note that Biden has taken "bold early actions ... to prioritize climate action and environmental justice," including withdrawing permits for the Keystone XL pipeline.
In addition to urging him to "build on this promising start" by shutting down DAPL during the review, they detail some of the pipeline's history, including the "egregious environmental racism" in 2016, when "North Dakota law enforcement officials violently removed protestors from the path of DAPL, many of them from the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe."
While former President Barack Obama—under whom Biden was vice president — denied DAPL permission to cross beneath Lake Oahe on unceded ancestral tribal lands, former President Donald Trump, the letter notes, "reversed course and granted the easement while ignoring the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe."
Hey @JoeBiden, the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to operate illegally endangering the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.… https://t.co/2RKBVACHl1— Joye Braun (@Joye Braun)1612478334.0
"As you consider how to proceed," the Democrats write, "we encourage you to meet with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other impacted tribes to better understand how the DAPL affects their lands, treaty rights, and environmental priorities."
"By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries," the letter adds. "This is a critical step towards righting the wrongs of the past and setting our nation on a path of environmental, climate, and social justice."
Hey @JoeBiden, we still #StandwithStandingRock. It's time to shut down DAPL and #BuildBackFossilFree. DAPL conti… https://t.co/lTsuqLjpws— Indigenous Environmental Network (@Indigenous Environmental Network)1612202160.0
As DeSmog noted Thursday, DAPL is facing more than just legal trouble: Westchester Fire Insurance Co. notified pipeline owner Energy Transfer in early January that it had lost a $250,000 "bond that Iowa, one of the four states it passes through, required the pipeline to maintain."
The 1,172-mile underground pipeline, which began operating in June 2017, transports 570,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to a terminal in Illinois.
Attorney Carolyn Raffensperger, director of the Science and Health Network, told DeSmog it could be tricky for Energy Transfer to replace the lost insurance coverage, especially given the court-ordered review.
"It will be difficult because the bond holder will require the pipeline to comply with all legal requirements," Raffensperger said. "If it is operating without a permit, any spill would be a big, big legal problem."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Appeals Court Agrees that DAPL River Crossing Is Illegal - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Refuses to Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline, Despite Campaign Pledges on Tribal Relations and Climate ›
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
That call from 350.org U.S. communications director Thanu Yakupitiyage for Indigenous #LandBack came just ahead of Thanksgiving in the U.S. and as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate communities across the country — with more than 12.7 million COVID-19 cases and over 261,000 deaths nationwide as of Wednesday afternoon.
"As we embark on a just recovery from the compound crises of climate disasters, racist police brutality, economic injustice, and Covid-19, we are in a pivotal moment of reckoning that requires us to ground in the history of the United States as a country built on stolen Indigenous land by stolen Black and African labor," Yakupitiyage said.
"As we act to stop state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown communities," she continued, "we also acknowledge the decades and centuries of white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism that continue to have devastating and genocidal impacts on the lives, livelihoods, and traditions of Native and Indigenous communities across the United States, North America, and around the world."
The activist drew attention to three controversial pipelines against which Indigenous people have led the opposition, highlighting some of the destructive impacts that such projects have on Native communities and lands, in addition to the climate effects.
"Fossil fuel executives and racist climate criminals continue to assault treaty rights and Indigenous sovereignty, attempting to ram toxic and unnecessary pipelines like Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 through sacred Indigenous land and waters, while perpetuating threats and violence against Indigenous womxn, girls, and two-spirit people," said Yakupitiyage.
We are seeing day in and day out black and brown organizers across Minnesota gather to resist the Line 3 pipeline t… https://t.co/FDHSaEDRpJ— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1606327501.0
"Transformative climate solutions to truly tackle the root of climate change require systemic action to decolonize from the very systems that have created the crisis in the first place," she added. "Our leap toward a just recovery must start with honoring treaties with sovereign Indigenous nations and returning land back to Native peoples. The time is now for meaningful care and repair."
For months, 350.org has spearheaded global calls for a just recovery from the pandemic — demanding that policymakers prioritize human health, provide economic relief directly to the people, help workers and communities rather than corporate executives, work to create resilience for future crises, and build solidarity across borders.
Yakupitiyage's comments centering Indigenous communities in relation to a just recovery come as Biden is facing calls from Native Americans and climate campaigners to consider appointing Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), a member of Pueblo of Laguna, as his interior secretary. Two years ago, she and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) became the first two Native American women elected to Congress.
When we say #landback, it means fundamentally undoing the harm that has been done to Indian Ppl...appointing an Ind… https://t.co/I7y4j0MvdU— NDN Collective (@NDN Collective)1605725755.0
Broadly, Biden is facing pressure from progressives — and public opinion — to stock the next administration, including his Cabinet, with people committed to serving in the public interest rather than corporate insiders. Earlier this month, the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats launched a campaign that includes Cabinet suggestions; Haaland is among them.
"A visionary secretary of the interior has enormous latitude to crack down on giveaways to fossil fuel corporations, like permits to drill for oil on public lands and in public waters. With a progressive leader at the helm, we can make real progress," the groups explain on the campaign website.
"As the first Native American to hold this position, Rep. Deb Haaland would usher in a new era of Indigenous authority over stolen land," they added. "She is a fierce ally of our movement who has fought for renewable energy job creation in the House as vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands."
The Secretary of the Interior oversees the management and conservation of federal lands. Who better to head the de… https://t.co/f1IJwNd1Bt— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1606261514.0
Haaland discussed the potential nomination on NPR this week, telling Rachel Martin, "First of all, it would mean a lot to Indian Country."
"When Sharice [Davids] and I got sworn in, everybody was so happy," said the congresswoman. "It means a lot to a group of people who have been here since time immemorial to know that they're truly being represented. I think it would really change the way people see our federal government."
"Being able to listen," Haaland added, "being able to move issues forward, bringing people to the table — I think that would make a huge difference."
From Arizona to Wisconsin, reporters have highlighted in the messy aftermath of Election Day that Native voters were key contributors to Biden's victory over President Donald Trump, who has yet to formally concede even though the transition process is already underway.
NEW from me for @CBSNews: Native American turnout in Arizona surged this year. Biden won Arizona by nearly 12,000 v… https://t.co/sMmk2La1nw— Grace Segers (@Grace Segers)1605902197.0
When we talk about the rural vote, remember that it is incredibly diverse, and that Democrats can and must recogniz… https://t.co/TNDWMHgT0L— John Nichols (@John Nichols)1606048444.0
After election-callers and major news networks named Biden the winner, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez released a statement noting the significance of the Native vote.
"The First Americans of this country, including a large majority of Navajo voters, had a major impact in the outcome of the presidential election in several swing states — that needs to be recognized and acknowledged by all," he said. "Both campaigns fought hard for Native American votes, particularly Navajo votes, and that's truly a reflection of the growing influence and power of tribal nations across the country."
Nez, who met with Biden and Harris to discuss tribal policy, added that "the Navajo Nation now looks forward to working together with the Biden-Harris administration to put that plan into action."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
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The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Deonna Anderson
In February 2017, Seattle became the first city to pass legislation to divest from a financial institution because of its role in funding the Dakota Access pipeline.
Months of rallies, public testimony at city council meetings and protests at Wells Fargo branches across Seattle led to the unanimous vote to divest billions from the bank. Los Angeles and Philadelphia would follow. But when the time came to withdraw its money from the bank at the end of 2018, Seattle instead renewed its contract with Wells Fargo. The political decision to divest city money from one of the biggest banks funding DAPL was reversed because the city hadn't found an alternative financial institution to house its money.
Pipeline Divestment Starts at Standing Rock
Throughout 2016 and after, indigenous activists (often referred to as water protectors) protested the DAPL at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota. Despite opposition, the camp at Standing Rock was cleared in February 2017, and oil started flowing through the DAPL in June 2017.
But the camp wasn't the only site of resistance. In October 2017, organizers—under the name Mazaska ("money" in Lakota) Talks—launched a campaign that urged individuals and larger entities, especially cities, to take money out of banks funding the DAPL and other pipeline projects transporting oil from Alberta's tar sands, including Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, and Energy East.
The idea was that removing money from the banks could put a stop to the projects. The phrase "Kill the funding. Kill the pipelines" was commonly spoken by divest advocates.
Wells Fargo was one of 17 funders of the DAPL; others included Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase. In September 2017, Mazaska Talks reported that the divestment movement was responsible for over $5 billion being withdrawn from DAPL-funding banks. That figure included the billions divested by Seattle, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles and more than $80 million in individual accounts.
Public Banks as an Alternative
Moving city money out of Wells Fargo was a way for local politicians to put their money "where their values are," said Seattle resident Matt Remle, co-founder of Mazaska Talks and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. That's because council members would be removing city money from financial institutions that fund projects that hurt the environment and communities. Some of the banks that fund fossil fuel projects also fund private prisons, detention centers, and weapons manufacturers.
"We want an avenue through which ordinary people can access banking services regardless of income and in a way that does not engage in any exploitative practices," said Seattle City council member Kshama Sawant, who was a co-sponsor for the divestment ordinance.
Once Seattle had committed to move its money, the city needed somewhere to move it to.
"When we were organizing around getting [Seattle] to divest, the question all along was what to do with the city's money," Remle said. "And our philosophy was it's not going to be a victory to close accounts with Wells Fargo and go to Bank of America."
Organizers saw public banks as the solution.
A public bank is an institution owned by a governmental body, funded with taxpayer money, and mandated to serve the public interest. In summer 2017, Remle and other Seattleites started advocating for the city to establish a public bank, a process that could take years.
Sawant said a public bank "would be accountable to the people of Seattle in a way that you could never hold a private bank accountable," adding that the city could better direct the bank's resources, like loans, to projects that support community-directed goals. Remle noted affordable housing, homelessness services, and funding for higher education as causes the city might fund.
Ultimately, the city's historic move to divest from Wells Fargo was undermined. It intended to end its relationship with the bank at the end of 2018, but the city failed to find a new place to house its $3 billion.
So it renewed its contract with Wells Fargo for three more years.
"At that moment there was no other choice but to continue with Wells Fargo, but it's a reminder of how the movements work. Winning the Wells Fargo divestment was sort of step one," Sawant said.
The next step, the council member said, is to demand that obstacles—such as the inability for credit unions to serve municipalities and the Washington law that bars cities from establishing any type of business entity—are removed so that the city or state can establish a public bank.
Bank of North Dakota
As it stands, North Dakota is the only place in the continental U.S. with a state bank. Bank of North Dakota was founded in 1919 and, for public bank advocates, it serves as a model.
Opponents of public banking have pointed to the failures of the 1800s public banks in Vermont and Indiana as examples of why public banks don't work. While serving as the director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, Mark Calabria argued that the public banks of this era were "characterized by rampant corruption."
But advocates point to the success of Bank of North Dakota, established at a time when farmers in the state had trouble obtaining credit for their businesses, as evidence that a state bank could work. The bank was started to provide farmers credit and serve as the state's financial repository. It has since evolved to finance the state's infrastructure projects.
"We need banks that are publicly owned so we can take our very substantial public deposits and public revenues and public resources and leverage them for local purposes instead of sending them to Wall Street," said Ellen Brown, founder of the Public Banking Institute. "Cut out the middle man, basically, which is what the Bank of North Dakota does."
While some profits from Bank of North Dakota are used to fund mission-driven loan programs related to economic development and infrastructure, the bank has also faced criticism for lending nearly $10 million for the law enforcement response to the #NoDAPL protests in North Dakota.
With that in mind, advocates in Seattle and elsewhere have been considering how to ensure transparency and accountability in municipal bank charters.
Barriers to Public Banks
Seattle is just one entity looking to move its money out of corporate banks and into socially responsible ventures from which local communities would benefit.
Philadelphia, New Haven in Connecticut, and Santa Monica and Davis in California have divested money from large banks, and others—like Santa Fe in New Mexico, Oakland in California, and Washington, D.C.—have completed feasibility studies for public banks. But not many of these efforts have really taken off. Each location comes with its own set of challenges.
One barrier to getting a public bank off the ground is high startup costs. This was the case in Massachusetts, where a 2011 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston—which used Bank of North Dakota as a model—estimated that startup costs for a state-owned bank in Massachusetts would have been $3.6 billion. Some advocates say this figure is an overestimate; banks generally need tens of millions to start, Brown said.The figure varies based on the bank's location, growth prospects, and risk profile, according to the Partnership for Progress, a program of the Federal Reserve System.
Because proposed banks have unique business plans, market competition, and local economic context, among other factors, the FDIC does not prescribe a minimum of initial capital. But the agency does suggest that organizers examine "the risks inherent in the institution's business model, the potential variability in earnings projections, and the skill and ability of the management team to carry out the business plan" when planning to apply for insurance.
There are also legal challenges to establishing public banks in some locations. Many states and cities—including Sante Fe,San Francisco, and Los Angeles—have clauses in their charters that inhibit them from establishing public banks. There's movement in some cities and states to overcome institutionalized policy barriers to establishing public banks. In Los Angeles, a measure on the November ballot would amend the city's charter and allow it to explore establishing its own financial institution. And in San Francisco, a task force was established in February 2018 to examine legal barriers and startup needs, such as insurance, a government-issued charter, and costs. In November 2018, the task force will have wrapped its examination.
Both Los Angeles and San Francisco are part of the California Public Banking Alliance, with members across the state working to establish city and regional public banks that are "socially and environmentally responsible," as noted on the coalition's website. Additionally, the alliance has pushed for state legislation that would instruct the California Department of Business Oversight to issue a special license for cities to form public banks and allow them to bypass regulations that apply to private banks.
Taking the First Steps
Over the years, Seattleites and Washingtonians have been pushing for a public bank. Since 2009, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa—who represents Seattle's 11th state Senate district—has introduced nine bills to establish a state bank, and he championed a city-owned bank during his mayoral campaign in 2017. While none of the bills passed, state legislators funded a feasibility study in the 2017–19 operating budget.
The main obstacle to starting a public bank in Washington is that the state constitution prohibits the state and its cities from loaning money or credit to individuals, associations or corporations.
The fight against the DAPL brought new energy to the effort in Seattle. Organizers believe a public bank could allow the city to have more funds to address the needs of residents.
"Recapturing some of that would create major savings that could help us fund things like education, housing, and transit," wrote organizer Alec Connon on a blog for the climate justice group 350 Seattle. "Done right, a public bank would save city money, create jobs, and provide affordable loans to small businesses."
While Seattle had to postpone its divestment from Wells Fargo, organizers—and city council members—have continued to push for the idea.
"That movement for divesting from Wells Fargo not only did the groundwork, but also set a line in the sand that this is something that we believe the city of Seattle should be going toward," Sawant said, noting that there is still hope of establishing a public bank in the city.
"We don't expect a straightforward path but we also believe that this is the correct thing to do."
In December 2017, city council members voted to allocate $100,000 to conduct a feasibility study for a municipal bank. The study was released in October 2018 and concluded that creating a public bank would be an involved and long-term process. One of the next steps identified was for the city of Seattle to develop a business plan for a municipal bank that would meet all the legal and regulatory requirements in Washington. Council member Sawant has submitted a request for a business plan in the budget development process for 2019.
"We're still looking at very long term. Even if the study comes back positive, the city council says yes, the mayor approves—we're still looking at probably, I would assume, another year plus to get the actual infrastructure and everything kind of set," Remle said. "But the wheels are definitely in motion."
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of YES! Magazine. It's been updated here to correctly designate Bank of North Dakota as a public, not a municipal bank, and to include the results of the city of Seattle's study on creating a municipal bank.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
By Jenni Monet
At the height of the movement at Standing Rock, Indigenous teens half a world away in Norway were tattooing their young bodies with an image of a black snake. Derived from Lakota prophecy, the creature had come to represent the controversial Dakota Access pipeline for the thousands of water protectors determined to try to stop it.
It was a show of international solidarity between the Indigenous Sami and the Lakota. "They got tattoos because of the Norwegian money invested in the pipeline," said Jan Rune Måsø, editor of the Sami news division of Norway's largest media company, NRK.
Rune Måsø said the story about the tattoos was just one of about a hundred that his team of journalists covered over the course of the months-long pipeline battle in North Dakota. One of them, "The War on the Black Snake," was awarded top honors at a journalism conference held in Trømsø in November. That story revealed large investments Norwegian banks had made to advance the $3.8 billion energy project, spurring a divestment campaign by the Sami Parliament.
The backstory can be told simply. As early as April 2016, Indigenous activists protested the pipeline's threat to the Standing Rock Sioux's primary water supply, the Missouri River. While battles were fought in federal courts, representatives of hundreds of Indigenous groups from around the world—the Maori, the Sami and the Sarayaku, to name a few—arrived. Temporary communities of thousands were created on the reservation borderlands in nonviolent resistance against the crude oil project. Police arrested more than 800 people, and many water protectors faced attack dogs, concussion grenades, rubber bullets and, once, a water cannon on a freezing night in November. Last February, armored vehicles and police in riot gear cleared the last of the encampments. Recently, investigative journalism by The Intercept has documented that the paramilitary security firm TigerSwan was hired by DAPL parent Energy Transfer Partners to guide North Dakota law enforcement in treating the movement as a "national security threat."
Oil now flows through the pipeline under the Missouri.
But this Indigenous-led disruption, the awakening resolve that was cultivated at Standing Rock, did not dissolve after February. Rather, it spread in so many different directions that we may never fully realize its reach. The spirit of resistance can easily be found in the half-dozen or so other pipeline battles across the United States. Beyond that, the movement amplified the greater struggle worldwide: treaty rights, sacred sites and the overall stand to protect Indigenous land and life.
To be sure, post-colonization has always demanded acknowledgment of Indigenous autonomy. It's what spurred months of international advocacy when Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh attempted to speak before the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1923. He wanted to remind the world that European colonizers had honored Iroquois Confederacy nationhood upon entering treaty agreements under the two row wampum.
The stand at Standing Rock, then, was not anything new—just more modern.
Google the words "the next Standing Rock" and you get a smattering of circumstances, mostly posed in the form of a question: Bears Ears, Line 3, Yucca Mountain. "The Next Standing Rock?" the headlines ask.
The story of White Clay, Nebraska, is indicative. When the last tipis came down at Standing Rock, Clarence Matthew III, a middle-aged Sicangu Lakota man better known by his camp nickname, Curly, spared little time migrating to the South Dakota–Nebraska border. There, another fight for justice was mounting, for families living on the neighboring Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This one focused on a decades-long dispute over beer sales targeted at Native American customers mostly prone to alcohol addiction.
Demands turned to broader issues: investigation of dozens of unsolved crimes in White Clay against Native Americans. "Once we got down there, they started telling us about the problems they've had, more than just alcohol, the murders, the rapes, and everything that was on the bad side of that alcohol problem," Matthew said. "It just broke my heart to hear all that."
Matthew had been caretaker of one of the main communities at Standing Rock, and he settled right in at Camp Justice at the edge of Pine Ridge. He was there with his "water protector family," others who have adopted camping as an active form of protest.
For all the momentum that the resistance at Standing Rock brought, the Indigenous rights movement in the 21st century faces increasing challenges. Tribal nations tread cautiously under the administration of Donald Trump. Internationally, the militarized protection of extractive energy projects and theft of land persist, despite glaring media attention paid to the rising number of Indigenous peoples killed or jailed for their activism in the face of it.
In a final push for re-election last fall, Standing Rock's Dave Archambault II gave what would be his last interview as chairman to tribal radio station KLND. Archambault used the airtime to speak matter-of-factly about how the movement had shifted the tribe's potent public image away from the reservation. "It used to be cool to be Indian; now it's cool to be from Standing Rock.:
"This movement was significant, not just for Standing Rock, but for all of Indian Country and around the world. We made some noise and now we're starting to see other Indigenous communities rise up and say, Let us all speak now, and it's pretty powerful and moving," he said.
Less than a week later and on the same day that the state of North Dakota accepted a $15 million gift from Energy Transfer Partners, Archambault was unseated by former council member Mike Faith, who has said publicly that he believes the overall movement hurt Standing Rock's economy and neglected daily life for tribal members.
The difference of opinion between the two leaders is a conflict that often lies at the heart of tribal community: protecting the Earth or protecting the Indigenous peoples.
On the eve of Thanksgiving 2017, when the Keystone pipeline ruptured and spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in neighboring South Dakota, the newly elected Faith remained notably silent while water protectors responded with outrage, most loudly, closest to home.
"Ironically, this week most Americans will be sitting down and giving thanks when last year at this time my people were being shot, gassed, and beaten for trying to keep this very thing from happening," Chairman Harold Frazier from the neighboring Cheyenne River Sioux tribe said in a statement. Like Archambault and other tribal leaders, Frazier was arrested for participating in the Standing Rock occupation.
Leadership in the Indigenous world is not only a difficult balance, but also dangerous.
In Honduras, activist Bertha Zuniga Cáceres is fighting for Indigenous rights in one of the most militarized regions in the world. She is the daughter of Berta Cáceres, the Indigenous Lenca woman who was assassinated after leading a successful campaign to halt construction of the Agua Zarca Dam. Now she is seeking justice for her mother's death.
The 26-year-old Cáceres is also campaigning to suspend all U.S. military aid to Honduras. In July, she survived an attack by a group of assailants wielding machetes. Just weeks earlier she had been named the new leader of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, the nonprofit organization formerly led by her mother.
"Many organizations, many NGOs, many Indigenous groups are struggling in how to sustain the work that they are doing in the face of these attacks," said Katharina Rall, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Last year, after the military-style assaults on the camps at Standing Rock, Human Rights Watch expanded its agenda to include a program focused on the environment as a human right. "The fact that we now have an environment and human rights program at our organization is a reflection of this reality that a lot of people face," Rall said.
Meantime, the organization Global Witness reports that it has never been deadlier to take a stand against companies that steal land and destroy the Earth. In 2016, the watchdog group found that nearly four activists a week are murdered fighting against mining, logging, and other extractive resource development.
As disturbing as this reality is, it is unsurprising then to recall the military-style violence at Standing Rock: the rows of riot police pointing their guns at unarmed activists standing in the river; tanks shooting water in freezing temperatures at a crowd of people gathered on a bridge. In this one regard, Standing Rock was not unique in the world. It had become crucially important. Americans saw the global struggle faced by the estimated 370 million Indigenous people—the violence, stolen resources, colluding corporations and governments that go hand in hand with protecting the Earth.
Sustaining this awakening is the next great task.
Climate change poses one of the most serious reminders of why the sacred fires ignited at Standing Rock must continue to burn: Indigenous peoples and their knowledge and value systems matter.
At November's COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim was dressed in traditional Mbororo regalia when she stood in a conference hall demanding that Indigenous knowledge systems be properly acknowledged in Paris Agreement negotiations. The girl who once tended cattle in the region of Chad bordering northeastern Nigeria has now become a bridge for her people and government officials making decisions impacting the fragile ecosystem of Lake Chad, the lifeline for the Mbororo.
"Traditional knowledge has kept us from century to century to be in harmony with Mother Earth," Ibrahim said. "These knowledges will make for all the difference, but we cannot wait years and years, because climate is changing, and it's impacting the Earth."
Other members of the Indigenous Caucus at Bonn say inserting traditional knowledge into the climate talks doesn't go far enough. Jannie Staffansson, a representative of the Saami Council, wants what Chief Deskaheh had petitioned to the League of Nations nearly a century earlier: sovereign recognition for Indigenous Peoples on an international scale. It would allow equity at the negotiating table—a level playing field to fairly deal with the consequences of a warming planet in the face of land grabs and natural resource extraction.
"Why is it always that Indigenous peoples need to pay for other people's wealth?" said Staffansson. She paused to check the Snapchat account she had been using to engage with a young Sami audience while at COP, a demographic similar to the teens who got tattoos of the black snake.
"I had friends that went to Standing Rock," said the 27-year-old. "I was envious of their trip to support self-determination. Self-determination and a just transition is what we have to take into account."
"We need climate justice in everything we do."
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
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Coming on the heels of last week's announcement to abandon the Paris climate accord, a group of leading national social change organizations announced Tuesday that they are divesting funds from "pipeline banks" and instead banking in alignment with their values. This growing international movement represents the next wave of institutions and individuals refusing to do business with banks financing risky fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and others.
The 15 U.S.-based organizations represent more than 13 million combined supporters. These groups have either already moved organizational money out of banks that finance DAPL and/or other tar sands pipelines, are in the process of doing so or never held an account in such banks in the first place. They currently, or will soon, use banks that they consider more socially responsible in principle and practice.
The groups include: 350.org, Climate Hawks Vote, CREDO, Earth Guardians, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Honor the Earth, Institute for Policy Studies, League of Conservation Voters, The Hip Hop Caucus, Oil Change International, Potlach Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club and the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN).
"Shifting investments away from fossil fuels can help banks improve not just their social license but their bottom line—investments in clean, renewable energy have proven to be a boon to both our economy and our environment," Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign, said. "The people are watching where and what banks sink their funds into, and they will not back down until every last one commits to investing in a future that benefits their communities, their economies and their health."
According to Shorting the Climate, a report documenting big bank support for fossil fuel infrastructure, the top global and U.S. banks provided $785 billion for fossil fuel infrastructure such as coal and tar sands development from 2013 through 2015. Advocates are taking action to ensure that banks do not continue to finance and lock in infrastructure that will push the world past the Paris climate agreement objectives.
"Now, more than ever, organizations and individuals are waking up to the troubling reality of what their banks are supporting with their money," Vanessa Green, campaign director for DivestInvest Individual, said. "It's time for everyone to invest in our future and divest from projects and businesses that harm our environment. If our President won't do the right thing, then we all need to step up and do it ourselves."
After recent bank protests and a burning global spotlight, several banks have dropped investments in DAPL or have committed, as U.S. Bank recently did, to revisit their financing of future fossil fuel projects threatening Indigenous sovereignty, water and land. But as one form or other of bank financing continues for existing and proposed pipelines, efforts to defund them continue.
"For too long decision-makers have put the profit of polluters over the lives of real people," Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus, said. "Divesting in those who support those decision-makers and polluters is a way we are fighting back."
Last month, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous groups from across Turtle Island and 121 First Nations and Tribes of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion launched an expanded pipeline divestment campaign. With a focus on 17 primary target banks, they call on "individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to withdraw their money from these banks" until they stop financing Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and TransCanada, the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline and four proposed new tar sands pipelines projects. The Mazaska (Money) Talks campaign and aligned public petition are catalyzing account closures—currently over $3.6 billion—to tally the business lost due to the banks' continued involvement.
"Divestment has been a hugely successful tactic in confronting the global climate crisis and is now shining a bright light on the assaults on the sovereignty, land and water of First Nations people perpetuated by fossil fuel billionaires and their dirty pipelines," Jenny Marienau, U.S. campaigns director at 350.org, said. "Just this May during 350.org's Global Divestment Mobilization, thousands of people attended over 260 events in 45 countries on six continents to put pressure on institutions to break their financial ties with fossil fuel companies."
Most major banks are invested in fossil fuel companies and infrastructure projects like pipelines, refineries and export terminals, among other risky industries. A growing number of online resources exist to help account holders identify alternatives like small and medium-sized banks, credit unions, CDCUs and CDFIs that support a clean and equitable energy transition, local economic development, fair housing, sustainable food systems and more.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) system leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in two separate incidents in North Dakota in March.
This is the $3.8 billion project's third known leak. The controversial pipeline, which is not yet finished and not yet operational, also spilled 84 gallons of oil in South Dakota on April 4.
The state's Health Department database shows that two barrels, or 84 gallons, spilled on March 3 in Watford City due to a leaky flange (the section connecting two sections of pipeline) at a pipeline terminal.
Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for pipeline backer Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), told the Associated Press that the discharge came from a line operated by a connecting shipper on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"They are responsible for the operations, maintenance, etc.," she said.
Then on March 5, a half a barrel, or 20 gallons, spilled in Mercer County due to a manufacturing defect of an above-ground valve, according to data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Both leaks were contained and cleaned up. No people, wildlife or waterways were affected.
The DAPL is a 1,172-mile-long, North Dakota-to-Illinois oil pipeline that is expected to start flowing on June 1. The project was at the center of a high-profile battle last year involving thousands of Native American protesters and their supporters.
ETP maintains the safety of the DAPL and its other operations such as the highly contested Rover Pipeline, a 713-mile pipeline that will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada.
Similar to DAPL, the Rover Pipeline is also under construction and has been condemned by opponents for its multiple spills and accidents, including a notorious discharge of 2 million gallons of drilling fluids into wetlands in Ohio last month.
This week, organizers from multiple groups launched a long-term resistance encampment to defend Ohio's Wayne National Forest from fracking as well as fracked gas pipelines.
"Energy Transfer Partners has demonstrated their complete incompetence time and time again based on the sheer volume of violations within the short time they've been constructing the Rover," Michael Rinaldi, 34, a member of Appalachia Resist!, said in a statement.
"Wherever these pipelines are planned, people are carrying the lessons of Standing Rock to show this predatory industry that we will resist them every step of the way. The health of our communities is not for sale. Water is Life."
In November, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided to offer tens of thousands of acres of Wayne National Forest up for fracking. The BLM has leased nearly 2,000 acres to Pennsylvania oil and gas company, Eclipse Resources.
"We are here to tell the Bureau of Land Management that our public lands are not for sale and also to remind them that public lands are stolen lands," Jolana Watson, 25, another member of Appalachia Resist!, said.
"The same companies that want to frack the Wayne and build pipelines through it are running roughshod over treaty rights and ignoring native sovereignty around the continent."
Additionally, it emerged this week that ETP is in the midst of another battle over the preservation of historic sites in Ohio. DeSmogBlog reported that documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission show that ETP and the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office are disputing over a $1.5 million annual payment owed to the state agency as part of a five-year agreement signed in February.
by Rebecca Adamson
The McKinsey Global Institute's report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women's Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth, concluded that, "Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women … do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer."
The report identified three elements that are essential for achieving the full potential of gender parity: gender equality in society, economic development and a shift in attitudes. According to the report, 95 percent of company CEOs are still male and of the 22,000 global firms that were reviewed, 60 percent failed to have any women on their boards.
Facing this disparity head on the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) held the first webinar on Gender Lens Investing: The Business Case, Opportunities and Action. Gender Lens Investing is defined as "the integration of gender into investment analysis" and it makes a strong business case for more female CEOs. Panelists, Kathleen McQuiggan at Pax World and Julianne Zimmerman at Reinventure Capital, shared research on the business case for investing in women. The conclusion was that the case for gender investing has never been stronger and that companies where women are better represented in leadership simply perform better.
At the same time, both the IEN webinar and McKinsey report point to evidence of persistent misconceptions about women founders and leaders, along with significant discriminations and market inefficiencies connected to gender and race. Over the past six years, researchers and experts in the tech industry have begun to consider the effects of this gender bias.
Ninety percent of tech employees are men and at the senior levels men account for 96 percent. Of the women entering the tech industry, 56 percent leave citing that they were pushed out by sexism and of the 6,517 companies receiving venture funding from 2011 to 2013, only 2.7 percent had women for CEOs.
As such, gender lens investing is crucial for breaking through the glass ceiling in these companies, but it's not just within the rank and file of the tech industry that women face discrimination. As McKinsey points out, gender parity requires a shift in attitudes and here again the tech industry offers no better place to see cultural attitudes towards women than on the Internet.
Across websites and social media, gender discrimination exists along a spectrum of illicit sexual surveillance, creep shots extortion, doxxing, stalking, malicious impersonation, threats and rape videos. Misogyny on Twitter, a report by Demos found that over a six-week period more than 6 million instances of the word "slut" or "whore" were used in English on Twitter. Of these tweets, 20 percent were deemed to be threatening.
Originally filed under "controversial humor," the social media companies recognize such postings can be overt efforts to silence women, but so far, the sanctity of free speech is taking precedence over freedom for women to engage in online communities. At the same time, "When it comes to copyright and intellectual property interests, companies are highly responsive. But violence against women frequently gets a lukewarm response until it becomes an issue of bad press," stated Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly in 2014.
At the annual SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing last November, a panel was held for the very first time on The Truth About Violence Against Women and Gender Inequality. Jamia Wilson, executive director of Women, Action and the Media, recounted how a group of women were able to elevate the online violence against women to "an issue of bad press." Advertisements for Dove, iTunes, Finn Air and others were appearing on live pages with names like "I kill bitches like you," "I Love the Rape Van" and many others with worse titles.
Thus Women, Action and the Media and other feminists launched a campaign directed at the advertisers, asking, "Were these values a reflection of the company's values?" The advertisers responded immediately and the social media companies followed. Pat Zerega, senior director of shareholder advocacy at Mercy Investments, shared how teaming with feminist stakeholders led to using shareholder advocacy as the means for increasing corporate accountability and awareness of extractives, trucking, hotels and other industries in the forefront of violence against women. Check out Mercy Investments' groundbreaking effort: Truckers Against Trafficking.
Perhaps the extractive industries might not set out to perpetuate violence against women, but it certainly is a widespread by-product of how they do business. Take the tragic scene of conflict, environmental destruction and violence against women that is playing out under a national media spotlight at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) site in North Dakota. The Bakken region of North Dakota started experiencing its oil boom back 2010. The rapid oil development brought an influx of cash and thousands of oil workers living in "man camps" with time and money on their hands.
The rates for murders, aggravated assaults and robberies have tripled and rates for sex crimes, forcible rape, prostitution and sex trafficking have increased by 20.2 percent, according to Kathleen Finn, scholar in residence at the American Indian Law Clinic University of Colorado. The response by the state of North Dakota to protect the women and children from the escalating oil-induced violence has been to allocate $100,000 over a five-year period for the victims. The response by the state of North Dakota to the company building DAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, has been to allocate more than $23 million over a five-month period for the law enforcement, National Guard and security forces to protect company equipment.
The fight against DAPL has implications beyond the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It is a fight for everyone who wants clean air, clean water and gender equality. As governments increasingly prove incapable or unwilling to protect these things, citizens are turning to the market and the market is responding. Thanks to DAPL, social responsibility is on every ESG (environmental, social and governance) investor's radar.
As of this writing, a coalition of more than 150 investors representing more than $1.3 trillion in assets under management called on banks financing DAPL to address or support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request to reroute the pipeline and avoid their treaty territory. Lead investor Boston Common Asset Management was joined by Storebrand Asset Management and Calvert Research and Management along with CalPERS and the comptroller of the city of New York in a statement about reputational and potential financial risks for banks with ties to DAPL. The investors are concerned banks may be implicated in conflict and controversies related to the pipeline and could face long-term brand and reputational damage resulting from consumer boycotts and possible legal liability.
Within the investment community, ESG investing is mainstreaming at an unprecedented rate. Considerable progress quantifying environmental risks and building them into the business model has been made. For example Carbon Tracker provides "financial and regulatory analysis to ensure that the risk premium associated with fossil fuels is correctly priced." The emergence of unburnable carbon, stranded assets, wasted capital and fossil fuel risk premium has equipped investors with a wealth of tools to integrate environment into their decisions. Likewise, governance is also making progress. evidenced by the creation of many funds and indices designed around CEO pay, board diversity, etc.
Social, on the other hand, has not made as much progress. While investors are able to easily assess companies based on women represented on boards, equal pay, etc., there are few if any tools for investors to gauge how companies are addressing violence against women in their operations and supply chains. Complicit in the lack of progress is the fact that the Securities and Exchange Commission does not require corporations to report on community relations or human rights, due to their perceived lack of material relevance, so they fail to disclose what could be deemed material social risks and social costs and corporate accountability to the victims.
But the times, they are changing. ESG investing is mainstreaming at an accelerated rate. To stay true to our original purpose—creating a better world through the market—we must create the tools, methodologies and social metrics to achieve relevance with the female half of our stakeholders.
Rebecca Adamson, an Indigenous economist, is founder and president of First Peoples Worldwide.
Reposted with permission from our media associate GreenMoney.
Before Inauguration Day, the Trump era has opened with an extremist agenda that poses an alarming threat to our people, our environment and the core values we share about justice, fair play and our commitment to leave future generations a livable world. Already, we've seen a set of cabinet nominees dominated by fossil fuel advocates, billionaires and bankers; a president-elect who says "nobody really knows" what's happening to our climate; and a full-on witch hunt for the experts who know the truth.
#Trump Declares All-Out War on Environment With Fossil Fuel-Loving Cabinet https://t.co/8ZG3u1A6a6 @greenpeaceusa @Greenpeace @350 @NRDC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1482084229.0
This is not normal. It's the most radical approach to American governance we've seen in our lifetime. Whatever we voted on in November, nobody voted for dirty water and air. Nobody voted to walk away from climate leadership and millions of clean energy jobs. And nobody voted to hand over our country to a pollute-ocracy that puts polluter profits first—and puts the rest of us at risk.
The following list addresses some, but not all, programs, policies and initiatives the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers have targeted. This could become the worst legislative and executive assault in history against the common sense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health. At risk is the water we drink, the air we breathe, our public oceans, coasts and lands and the very approach we've taken for generations in this country to protect our common inheritance.
At the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we will stand up and hold this government to account, by making sure the public understands what's at stake—for our country, our people and the common future we share.
Climate and Energy
The Clean Power Plan: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the first national standards reducing dangerous carbon pollution from our largest source, fossil fuel power plants. The Clean Power Plan provides reasonable state-specific goals for carbon cuts, flexibility for states to meet them and a federal plan that will cut a key driver of climate change 32 percent by 2030 and stimulate growth in clean energy. More here and here.
Here are 10 questions the Senate must ask Scott Pruitt and Rex Tillerson. https://t.co/vsK1hAhcT4 via @EcoWatch— NRDC 🌎 (@NRDC 🌎)1483562166.0
International Climate Agreement: The Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations and effective as of Nov. 4, 2016 is a global response to the threat of climate change. It aims to hold global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. More here and here.
HFC International Commitments: In October 2016, more than 140 countries signed onto the Kigali Agreement, which calls for phasing down powerful climate-warming pollutants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, the treaty that saved the ozone layer. Industry supports the agreement. More here.
Reducing Methane Pollution and Natural Gas Waste in the Oil and Natural Gas Industry (BLM & EPA): These standards will reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and toxic air emissions from fracking and other oil and gas operations. Leaks and purposeful venting waste gas that could be sold and used while threatening health and worsening climate change. More here and here.
Restrictions on public financing for overseas coal projects: The Obama administration restricted U.S. funding for overseas coal power plants to limit climate change. This affects the Export Import Bank and other entities. More here.
Assessing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (CEQ): The White House Council on Environmental Quality issued guidance to federal agencies on analyzing the climate impacts of their proposed actions before deciding on how to proceed. More here.